Road System Trails Master Plan

Kodiak Island TrailsThe Borough Assembly will be reviewing the trails plan at their December 29th and January 12th  work sessions and will introduce an ordinance to adopt the final plan at the January 5th Regular Assembly meeting.  A public hearing and final adoption of the plan is anticipated to occur at the January 19th Regular Assembly meeting.  All Assembly meetings begin at 7:30PM.  Work sessions will be held in the downstairs conference room and the regular meeting/public hearing will be in the KIB Assembly Chambers.  All meetings will be held at the Kodiak Island Borough Building located at 710 Mill Bay Road, Kodiak, AK  99615.

Any questions about the plan or the final stages of the planning process should be directed to the Community Development Department at 486-9360.

Project Introduction

The Kodiak Island Borough is beginning work on preparation of a Trails Master Plan for the areas served by the road system.  Trails are an important part of the lives of Kodiak Island residents.  They are used for recreation and for access to hunting and fishing sites.  Within and around the city of Kodiak, trails also provide key pathways to schools, homes and shops. Outside the city, in areas with rugged and undeveloped terrain, trails are frequently the only way to gain entry to many locations on the island. Borough residents support having and maintaining a high-quality trail system, as evidenced through previous trail inventorying and planning efforts conducted by the Borough, trail user groups and others.

The Trails Master Planning effort will be guided by Borough’s Park and Recreation Committee and Borough staff.  The Borough has hired a team of trail planning and community involvement consultants led by Alta Planning+Design to assist with this effort.  The process began in early September 2009 and is expected to take about one year to complete.

Visit the Kodiak Island Borough Website

KIB Trails Plan Myths and Misconceptions

During the course of the planning process, a number of misconceptions about the trails plan and trail use in the Borough have been voiced during public meetings and elsewhere.  The Trails Planning team believes it is important to address some of these issues to better inform the trails planning process and participants.  Following is a brief list of misconceptions and associated responses.

MYTH: Island Trails Network (ITN) is leading this effort and benefitting significantly from it.

Some community members have stated that ITN is being paid approximately $100,000 and has responsibility for managing and a significant stake in the outcome of the Trails Plan project.  In actuality, the trails planning team attempted to enlist volunteer and agency efforts to collect existing condition trail data. When these efforts proved fruitless, ITN was given a relatively small contract (approximately 10% of the total budget) and ITN’s efforts are limited to inventorying trail conditions.  To date, ITN staff has worked very cost-effectively to assist with these efforts.  As an organization, their work benefitted a variety of trail users and their participation in this process has increased local involvement and efficiencies.

MYTH: The Borough is proposing ATV registration.

A number of people have expressed concern about the possibility of the Borough imposing a registration fee on ATVs.  While this strategy has been suggested by some local stakeholders, it is has not been formally recommended and is not likely to be an outcome of the plan.  The Borough does not currently have the authority to impose a registration fee.  Such a proposal along with authorizing legislation would need to come from the State of Alaska.

MYTH: ATV riders have not been involved in the process.

In fact, ATV riders have been far more vocal and involved than any other group in the process to date. While the list of stakeholders who participated in initial interviews includes only a few ATV groups, this is simply a reflection of the fact that there are relatively few organized ATV user groups in Kodiak.  Despite this, ATV users have made up the majority of attendees at the last two planning meetings where they have participated very actively.  Their comments have been well represented amongst the input we’ve received to date and we understand their concerns.

MYTH: There are no trail user conflicts.

While some meeting participants have asserted that they have not experienced any conflicts, we have heard repeatedly about this issue from a wide variety of other trails users.  While we have not heard of many actual physical conflicts or altercations, when “conflict” has been defined more broadly, many people have said that the use and enjoyment of trails by one person or group often is in conflict with the use and enjoyment of the same trail by others.  This issue has been well documented both in our process and in previous trail user and survey processes and includes all trail users including dog walkers/birdwachers, bicyclists and strollers on the Rezanof bike path, and motorized conflicts with other users.

MYTH: The natural resources don’t need the money.

Damage to natural resources has been identified as a key issue by a variety of trail user groups and state and federal agencies.  There are two primary ways to address this issue through minimizing or avoiding impacts (e.g., with trail hardening, marking or rerouting a trail out of a sensitive area to an area that can sustain the use), and paying to restore the damaged resources.  Again, the need for money to implement both these strategies is well-documented.  Completing a trails plan will better position the Borough to obtain additional state and federal resources to improve and mark trails in order to avoid future damage and to restore resources where feasible.

MYTH: The Borough and landowners plan to limit access to trails from the road system.

Currently access to many trails and public lands is via 17B easements that are connected to the road system.  These easements were established by the federal Bureau of Land Management in coordination with Native Corporations who are the landowners.  17B easements only cross Native lands, neither the Borough, the BLM or private native landowners have any plans to eliminate these easements or restrict access to them.  However, all these parties share the objective of ensuring that the easements are used for their intended purpose – providing transportation access from one point to another, keeping use within the easements and off adjacent private lands, and protecting natural resources within the boundaries of the easements and on adjacent lands.

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